Richard Roller (b. 1930; d. 1998) began collecting glass fruit and vegetable canning jars around 1968. At that time jar collecting was a small hobby; not many people collected and those that did had little information about the history of their jars. By Roller's death thirty years later all that had changed; he made a remarkable contribution to the increase in collectors' knowledge of jar history.
In addition to collecting, Roller devoted much of his time to researching and publishing information on the development of the industry and of numerous jars. In 1973, he began his Fruit Jar Newsletter, which he edited until his death and for which he wrote many articles. The 1983 publication of his Standard Fruit Jar Reference attempted to bring together in one publication what was known about the history of over 1400 fruit jars at that time. These two publications remain Roller's most important legacies to the hobby.
Roller understood the importance of making his research findings available to all collectors, beginners and advanced. He received and answered thousands of letters during his career, sometimes a half dozen a day. He was very careful to use only documented evidence wherever possible and to correct previously published mistakes whenever he could.
Richard Roller died in July, 1998 at the age of sixty-eight.
Scope and Contents
The Richard Roller Papers contain documentation on the history of glass manufacturing, with an emphasis on fruit and vegetable canning jars. The collection is divided into four categories: MSS 179 (manuscript collection), P 179 (photograph collection), PN 179 (photograph negative collection), and S 179 (slide collection). In addition, a collection of published books and periodicals is catalogued and can be located by searching in the University Libraries' CardCat. There is also a collection of unprocessed audio recordings.